Once the 2016 season came to an end there were a few questions that we knew were going to be asked as the Indianapolis Colts headed into the offseason. Aside from how the Colts would draft, or wondering about any changes made near the top of the organization, some of the existing defensive players were surrounded by intrigue.
One such question was whether Clayton Geathers would be moved to an inside linebacker role in 2017. Remember, this was before anything was known about his health issues being directly related to a back surgery. Another unknown was, first, the question as to whether Darius Butler would be re-signed, and second, many acknowledged that he may be making the move to safety.
So, we know what happened as we look in the rearview mirror, but I think some questions still hang around about Butler moving to safety.
Butler is a natural free safety. He’s got great ball skills, he’s fearless in attacking the ball carrier/receiver and he’s been one of the Colts’ more consistent playmakers. On the surface it looks as though he’s exactly the type of player the team would want to keep around in such a role. On the other hand, Butler’s physical makeup and age lend some legitimate debate to his viability as a full time safety.
Butler has been dinged up over the past few seasons with a broken finger suffered against the Chicago Bears as well as a hamstring injury – on an interception against the Denver Broncos – but not in that order. He laid some big hits too last season, most notably on Adam Thielen, that left him dazed and confused at times.
The real question is, for me at least, is: Can he stay healthy in a full season at the position?
Well, Jacob Feldman of Sports Illustrated dug into how Butler has managed to approach this season completely different with all of this in mind. Butler noted that he intends to enter training camp 10 pounds heavier and has been working with his personal chef in order to achieve that goal. It’s really quite the regimen.
Butler will need those 10 pounds to be workable weight as he moves into this new role. He’s working to make his frame more durable and adept to the position, however, one could question that this weight may have negative effects on his coverage ability which is a primary reason for his return.
We know Butler’s a tough dude too as he played with the club on his arm last year, refusing to sit out more than necessary with his broken finger. It makes sense that his ability to play through injury was one of the key factors in Chris Ballard offering him to return to the team when his clear offseason targets were those in their mid-20s.
Butler has 12 interceptions in his five years in Indianapolis, and though the questions are valid regarding his switching positions, his approach and dedication to the process is commendable. Butler’s skillset are a nice fit for the Colts scheme – that much is pretty obvious.
His ability to excel in this new role, define his natural ability a bit more through camp and to maintain his health will be one of the most interesting aspects to watch as the season nears.